Compared to traditional bricks-and-mortar, the exponential boom of eCommerce platforms brings about a unique set of challenges for online retailers. While the introduction of new systems has enabled retailers to streamline operations and cater to digitally-savvy shoppers, it has provided a breeding ground for global cyber crime.

Unfortunately, this means that as a business owner, you face the growing risk of data hacks, cyber attacks and other security threats that jeopardise the financial stability and reputation of your company.

In this highly competitive marketplace, businesses cannot afford to have downtime and protecting your business and its customers has never been more important. Although the retail industry may always be an attractive target for cyber criminals, with the right tools in place, retail businesses have the power to minimise threats. And if jumping into this hyper-digital world is a little overwhelming, these are some simple steps you can take to protect your business immediately:

Educate your employees

The more we are exposed to the digital world, the more savvy cyber criminals evolve to be. The role of being cyber-aware is not just for business owners, but employees must also bear the responsibility of recognising potential attacks – and avoid falling victim. Educating employees can help them to be aware of the risks to their online privacy; cyber crime threats are ever-present and thus your training should not be condensed into a one-stop shop. Send out regular reminders of what users should look for from attempted cyber-attacks and train employees how to look out for suspicious activities.

Phishing emails are common occurrences. Phishing occurs when you are targeted by fake emails, social media posts, or direct messages trying to trick you into clicking on fraudulent links or downloading malicious attachments. To avoid this and other social- engineering tactics, look out for language conveying: a sense of urgency to respond immediately; poorly crafted messages with spelling and grammatical errors; financial offers that are too good to be true; generic messages from unfamiliar senders; requests for personal information; misspelt versions of well-known names; or strange claims that someone you know is in immediate need of help.

Safe password practices

Password safety is at the core of cybersecurity. Recycling passwords is one of the primary reasons behind security breaches, along with weak, stolen or lost passwords, so it’s crucial to raise awareness about the importance of using strong passwords. With more people working remotely at eCommerce businesses or logging into different stores’ systems remotely, you must ensure that all employee devices accessing the company network have password protection.

To create a secure password, it should be long, unique, and complex. Password managers can help by automatically saving and filling in passwords, reducing the risk of social engineering attacks. Regular password changes can also help reduce the risk of a breach, so consider automatically prompting employees to change their passwords every 60 to 90 days. Additionally, enforcing multi-factor authentication (MFA) can further enhance security. Which leads us onto the next point…

Implement multi-factor identification

Multi-factor authentication is a more stringent way of authentication that requires additional information beyond a password before getting into an account. It is crucial for both security and compliance aspects of a business, helping to provide stronger authentication, improve workforce mobility and streamlining admin tasks.

Secure your networks

Protecting yourself whilst navigating the digital landscape can be as simple as utilising a privacy-focused web browser. These privacy-first applications safeguard your online activities and secure personal data by universally blocking tracking and website surveillance. Each privacy-centric browser has its own set of unique features that cater to varying privacy concerns, so it’s important to do some research and make an informed decision before choosing the right one for you.

Zoho’s recently-launched privacy-centric browser Ulaa was developed to protect against tracking and surveillance, rooted in three main areas: privacy, user modes and productivity. The web browser comes equipped with features that allow for privacy customisation, built-in user profile modes, and integrated productivity tools while keeping user data safe and private. If the technology you use has privacy as a foundation, not an add-on, you’ll be better protected against potential hacks.

Ultimately, cybersecurity should remain at the top of every retailer’s agenda. Simple steps to prioritise online privacy can support the security and longevity of your business, and those that continue to resist cyber-attacks remain entrusted and reliable by employees and customers. As online threats continue to emerge, it’s important to leverage new technologies that enable a seamless and secure online experience so you can feel safe knowing your business is protected and your customers are shopping safely.

Vijay Sundaram is chief strategy officer at Zoho.